Tuesday, February 4, 2014

City Tap House Food Review

The Tap Burger with Duck Fat Fries

I can't seem to get enough of City Tap House. Yesterday marked my fourth visit, and if they keep serving me food like this... I may just pitch a tent, and stay a while. If you read my Brunch review from two weeks ago, you have a pretty good idea of what I think about the place: The word awesome leaps to mind. This most recent visit was even more important however. Time to review the dynamic duo of DC Outlook cuisine... Burger and Pizza. Serious business. Would City Tap House pull a Peyton Manning, and disappoint? I wouldn't bet on it.

Who's kidding who? The odds of CTH blowing me away on both dishes was pretty darn high (just look at their track record.) Spoiler alert: They did (blow me away) and even took time to toss in a mind-boggling appetizer in between.

It was beginning to sleet/snow when I arrived just before noon; and I found myself almost alone (how awesome would that be, at least for me?) It was short-lived (customers started piling in after just a few minutes) but it gave me time to appreciate how nice this place looks. For instance, did you know that the walls are made of recycled wood from actual Amish barns? How cool is that? My server Chris gave me a warm welcome, and the ultimate compliment: He recognized me from a prior visit (I'm pretty sure he refilled my water) and I immediately felt like a VIP of sorts. The staff shines each and every time I visit here: Kudos to the person in charge of hiring.

Sweet Corn & Crab Hushpuppies

I'm probably the only one who visits a top tap house, and drinks just water; but that's me... different. I came on a mission (burger and pizza) but couldn't resist CTH's popular Sweet Corn & Crab Hushpuppies ($12.) I also ordered a Margherita Pizza (with Fennel Sausage) and The Tap Burger ($14) with Benton Bacon (an extra $3, but so worth it) and a side of Duck Fat Fries (more on those later.)

The hushpuppies arrived first, beautifully arranged on a rectangular plate over an amazing citrus remoulade (with honey thyme butter on the side.) Delightfully crispy, they're cooked perfectly and literally burst open with tiny kernels of sweet corn (remarkably still in season) and lush crab filling. I sopped up every drop of remoulade with the three I ate (I had to pace myself this time... Sacrifices had to be made, much to my chagrin.) In fact: It's just after midnight, and I'd kill to have those last two fritters back.

Classic Margherita Pizza with Fennel Sausage

My pizza arrived soon after, and I immediately went to work. This was my second pizza here (and first for review) and it's darn good. The crust is cooked perfectly (great char on top, and bottom) and balances chewy/crispy really well. Fresh mozzarella and crumbles of fennel sausage sit atop some of the richest red sauce I've ever had. Normally sauce this flavorful has an orangish color... Not at CTH. It's bright, bright red. Fresh basil leaves add a nice touch, but this particular pizza lives and dies on its crust & sauce.

I had a few minutes to relax before my "main event" arrived, and I needed it. It gave me (1) time to digest/make room for more food (2) admire the incredible in-house acoustics and (3) overhear one of three 20-something ladies comment, "Oh, this place is neat" as they were being seated.

The making room for more food, goes without saying. The acoustics in this place are sensational... It's as if someone had access to my Pandora playlist and was playing it for me (at the perfect decibel, of course.) "Evil Woman" by ELO? "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down") by Nancy Sinatra? This can't be a coincidence, can it? Maybe they know about the tent? The comment... par for the course. This place is neat, and customers are only too happy to share that information. Something tells me, management hears lots and lots of compliments every day.

After arranging space within, I enthusiastically accepted my burger and fries. No ordinary fries, mind you. Duck Fat Fries. Think it doesn't make a difference? Guess again. They're indulgent, and come nestled in a small, cast iron "treasure chest" of sorts. They disappeared in a couple of minutes. Poof. Gone. Make sure you add them to any order. Any order.

The burger completed yesterday's culinary puzzle. It's exactly what you'd expect it to be. Juicy (love those agrodolce onions) crispy (Benton's Bacon... duh, hello!) and delicious. I can only imagine what this bad boy would be like with egg ($2 extra.) It's soft (toasted brioche bun) and gets a little messy at the end; but if you think that's a diss... dream on.

Somehow, I was able to pry myself from my table (and head for the exit.) I know I can't have this much food for lunch; but how do you say no to several courses of deliciousness? Stellar service (thank you Chris!) and impeccable food, guarantee that I'll be a City Tap House customer for life. If only I could figure out a way to order just one item.